Looks Gross, Tastes GREAT

Hello, friends! I hope you all had the most fantastic Easter weekend. I did, especially when you consider the number of almond croissants that I devoured. You’ll see. 😉

This was my long weekend plan, most of which didn’t play out because the weather was gorgeous and I didn’t want to be cooped up in a yoga studio.

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Almond croissant numero un was at Delysees, where I nibbled on a warm croissant with a dark hot chocolate.

On Sunday, I tried Russian food for the first time. This was a trout coulibiac from The Tempered Room. It was a puff pastry (similar to a wellington) filled with flaked trout, roasted kale, lentils, slices of hard-boiled egg, and quinoa. Definitely not the most authentic, but a delicious, protein-filled healthy twist to a Russian classic.

Let’s be honest, this doesn’t look the greatest. But it tasted AWESOME.

That was devoured alongside a buttery kale and sweet potato scone.

London Fog tea lattes are my favourite, and this was my first time trying the famous Sloane brand of tea. I loved this mug of tea, but thought it was similar to any old supermarket Earl Grey.

Croissant number two. Did I mention this was all in the same day? This chocolate almond croissant was flatter, denser, less flaky, and more buttery.

Another day, I enjoyed a phenomenal brunch at Barque Smokehouse, where I enjoyed cornbread topped with citrus smoked salmon, two poached eggs, and BBQ hollandaise, the crispiest roasted potatoes, and a kale salad with carrots, cabbage, and pear.

Healthy dinner at home involved cauliflower rice and zucchini/yellow zucchini shreds with gruyere cheese.

I can never make the 2 egg + 1 ripe banana pancakes successfully. They always seem to rip or break on me! Even this time, when I added a bit of rolled oats and almond meal to create sturdiness, they tore as I flipped them. Any tips?

Regardless, they tasted fantastic smeared with almond and peanut butter.

Round Two turned out better! I added a bit of quinoa flour this time. I think that contributed to the sturdiness.

Another day, I whisked up four eggs, lots of wilted spinach, and feta cheese. I made it omelette-style, then tossed it into the oven to broil and melt the cheese. This created a filling, delicious, and easy meal that I paired with yogurt and a crumbled date bar.

Saag paneer (spinach + cottage cheese) roti is probably my favourite thing about Toronto so far. This roti from Mother India on Queen West was stuffed with pureed spinach, tender potatoes, and some chunks of paneer cheese. I had a big craving for Indian food after a patient told me about Mother India, and it needed to be satisfied! I loved this roti as much as the one from Gandhi Indian Cuisine. Though Mother India’s roti itself tasted better and was less spicy, Gandhi’s saag paneer roti had bigger chunks of paneer and the spinach looked greener.

It looks gross. I know. But it tasted absolutely incredible.

Can you believe that I have EIGHT more days of work before I’m going back to Waterloo and saying goodbye to Toronto (possibly forever!)?

My sister, Seline, published a book! Her novel is called ‘Journey to Avalon‘ and details the adventures of an awkward, self-proclaimed loser who finds herself with strange powers in the Elemental Academy for the Supernaturally Gifted – and will do anything to go back to her mundane life at home.

I think that’s it for today! I have lots more stuff to show you in the next few days, so stay tuned 😉

Purple Waffle

Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 2.30.28 PMSeline, my lovely little 17 year-old sister, will be going into Grade 12 in September. These are the courses she chose. Seline wanted to focus on courses in the world of arts, potentially going to law school in the future. Her Grade 12 schedule looks dramatically different from mine. While she is taking courses like economics, law, and Japanese, I studied biology, chemistry, and physics. Good job, Seline!

 

On Tuesday night, I did two yoga classes and went to Platito Filipino Soul Food, a restaurant in Baldwin village. I savoured this dish of fried shrimp, crispy squash, coconut milk sauce, and green beans with a side of steamed rice. The best part of the dish was the creamy, crispy squash – and the worst part was when I fully bit into a massive chunk of raw ginger. I nearly died.

The dessert that followed was absolutely spectacular: an ube (purple yam) waffle topped with ube ice cream, two sticks of a Filipino snack, and shredded macerated coconut. The waiter initially hesitated when I ordered this and asked if I wanted to switch it for the smaller ube cheesecake, meant for one person. He told me that this waffle was meant to serve 2-3 people, but I had to try it!

And of course I demolished the entire thing. Crispy, rich, with the slightest hint of saltiness (just perfect), I loved the combination of textures, flavours, and temperatures in this glorious dish.

Another day, I used leftover spaghetti sauce to make shakshuka. Simply heated up the sauce in a nonstick pan, cracked in two eggs, and covered it up for five minutes while I toasted some bread for avocado toast. I topped the eggs with some parmigiana regiano cheese and it was lovely.

Yesterday, I left work early and went to deKEFIR, a frozen kefir shop in the Bay-Adelaide Centre in the Financial District of Toronto. It was my first time trying frozen kefir (you all know how obsessed I am with good old froyo), and I was pleasantly surprised. A little tart, sweet (though not as smooth and creamy as gelato), with a rich dairy flavour, the kefir itself was fantastic. I had four toppings:

  • Quinoa Qrunch (like puffed rice, but made with quinoa)
  • candied walnuts
  • chopped pineapple
  • crunchy pie crust

The quinoa was my favourite part. This was the regular size and cost $5.30.

A few days ago, I made a Thai yellow curry! I had a package of mix that I whisked into a can of coconut milk, and added chopped butternut squash, broccoli, and mushrooms. This tasted fantastic over a mixture of quinoa and chopped, steamed cauliflower. Thai yellow curry is meant to be made with white potatoes and beef to stand up to the hefty, gingery flavour of the curry, but I really liked how the broccoli soaked up the flavour.

Last time, I shared a recipe for banana chocolate almond flour squares. I’ve been loving these little squares so much! I use them to top my oatmeal, my yogurt, and everything in between. It’s creamy, rich and chocolatey, and has the lovely texture of almond flour. It tastes incredible with peanut butter.

Yum! What could make a better breakfast?

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Aerials season is over! I am going to miss this place.

Mom finally opened the package of masala that I bought in Nepal, 10 months ago. She used the fried rice masala to make rice with eggs and peas. While the flavour was fantastic, she wished she had some chopped beef or chicken to add into the rice. Nice cooking, Mom!

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I think that’s it for today! Not much has been happening recently, except for the sad fact that I have only 15 more days of work left before I go back to Waterloo for school! I am going to miss Toronto, but trying to make the best of it while I’m here.

 

Shepherd’s π

Very rarely do I meet a brownie recipe that I don’t 100% adore. This was one of those recipes. I followed this recipe by Chocolate Covered Katie, who I am really not a fan of. Gritty, too-chewy, and unpleasantly dense with minimal chocolate flavour, these brownies were certainly not my favourite. Plus, my constructive criticism to her recipe was deleted from her blog. Okay…

Dressed up with some yogurt, nut butter, and granola, these brownies weren’t too awful. 🙂

This frittata-like thing was made with leftover steamed broccoli, chopped into tiny pieces and whisked up with three eggs, salt, pepper, cayenne, and garlic powder with a splash of milk. Then, I cooked it in a nonstick skillet over medium low heat, covered, until the top looked cooked. I added maple goat cheddar on the top, then slid the frittata onto a baking dish for broiling in the oven. The top became perfectly crispy, and tasted fantastic with some avocado toast.

This recipe will be repeated with feta and spinach soon!

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Pancakes! I used this recipe for thick, super hearty pancakes. With hazelnut flour instead of almond flour, these were ultra-flavourful. Delicious with some creamy yogurt and crispy granola.

Cafe Polonez is a Polish restaurant in Roncesvalles in West Toronto. I ate all of the following:

  • 2 potato pancakes
  • 1 cabbage roll stuffed with mushrooms and rice, topped with mushroom gravy
  • 2 cheddar cheese and potato pierogies
  • 2 cottage cheese and potato pierogies
  • lots of sour cream

How do you spell pierogies? This was my first time enjoying Polish food, and I have to say that I’m a big fan. Will definitely be back to Cafe Polonez because I want more of that incredible cabbage roll!

This recipe was made when I realized that I had half a jar of spaghetti sauce to use up.

Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

  • quinoa (1/2 cup)
  • spaghetti sauce (1/3 cup)
  • 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 3/4 tsp chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 2 whole peppers, tops cut off.
  • as much cheese as you’d like

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Mix all ingredients except peppers.
  2. Stuff peppers with mixture. I alternated between layers of the quinoa mixture and maple goat cheddar.
  3. Bake 30 mins covered. Remove foil.
  4. Increase heat to 400. Bake 20 minutes.

No pictures, sadly. 😦


Shepherd’s pie on Pi Day! March 14, that is.

I roasted three sweet potatoes in the oven for an hour, then pureed them with a splash of milk, salt, and pepper to make this creamy topping. The filling was made with frozen mixed vegetables, chopped mushrooms, and lots of brown lentils.

This is how I made the lentils:

Easy Stovetop Lentils

Makes as much or as little as you’d like – just use 1 part lentils to 2 parts water 🙂

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Rinse lentils thoroughly. Pick out shrivelled lentils or debris.
  2. Combine lentils and water. IMPORTANT: here, you can add other flavour-boosters, like a couple of bay leaves or some cloves of garlic. I added some big chunks of onion. Do not add salt here.
  3. Bring to rapid simmer over medium high heat.
  4. Reduce heat to gentle simmer.
  5. Cook 25 minutes.
  6. Salt lentils when they are tender, no longer crunchy. Stir in salt. Taste and add more if needed.
  7. Keep refrigerated for about one week. Add to soups, salads, or other recipes.

Super yummy! Turns out 1 cup of lentils and 3 sweet potatoes will make about 3 servings.

This comforting meal was born when I didn’t have any vegetables on hand. Behold – the sweet potato cauliflower gratin! I made this with one roasted sweet potato, roasted cauliflower, gruyere cheese, tons of crushed butter crackers (like breadcrumbs…ish) and dried basil. Toast was topped with a lot of garlic butter, because garlic bread makes any meal better. 🙂

That’s it for this snowy, windy, Thursday morning!

The Cheapest Thing I’ve Ever Made

Good evening, friends! I’m not feeling the best right now. You know the post-dinner end-of-the-week slump where you just want to eat ten scoops of peanut butter and then lie down and sleep for 12 hours?

That’s me right now.

Pancakes one morning! Pics coming up.

Thick and Hearty Paleo Banana Pancakes

Serves 1: makes 2 pancakes

Ingredients
  • 1 small overripe banana, or half large
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 3 tbsp. almond flour
  • 1 tbsp. coconut flour
  • coconut oil for frying
  • desired toppings
Instructions
  1. Mash banana. Add egg, cinnamon, baking powder, vanilla, and salt. Whisk well.
  2. Add almond flour and coconut flour, whisking until combined.
  3. Heat coconut oil over medium-low heat and fry two pancakes. When golden brown, flip and cook the other side. If the pancakes get too brown, lower the heat.
  4. Serve immediately with toppings, and enjoy!

Brown sugar and soy sauce salmon with a rice vinegar marinade. Turned out quite tasty over leftover fried rice.

This breakfast was SO filling! Oats topped with two chopped kiwis, a square of banana bread, yogurt, and granola. Whew.

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PEANUT STEW! This was the cheapest thing EVER. Spinach, sweet potatoes, peanut butter, rice. Does it get any more inexpensive than that?! Also, it was freaking delicious. It was so good that I made two batches in a week, each batch serving three.

In other words, I ate this exact same peanut stew six times in seven days. The toasted peanuts on top are perfection.

Peanut Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach
SERVES: 3
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ginger, minced
  • freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/4″ cubes
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or chicken broth (I used chicken)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 3 cups spinach, roughly chopped
  • Brown Rice to serve
  • Peanuts, lightly toasted
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a pot. Add onions and saute for 4 to 6 minutes, or until onions are fragrant. Stir in garlic and ginger, continuing to cook for two more minutes.
  2. Stir in pepper, salt, cayenne, and cumin. Start on the low end of the cayenne pepper and add more only if you want it spicier. Cook for 1 to 2 more minutes until spices are fragrant.
  3. Next add in sweet potatoes, carrots, veggie broth, and honey. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer over low heat. Stir in peanut butter and let stew cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Once the sweet potatoes are soft, stir in spinach and continue to cook until spinach has wilted. Serve with over brown rice if desired and top with toasted peanuts.

Mac and cheese was devoured. This vegan mac and cheese (which I topped with real dairy cheddar… I know) was made with kabocha squash! Ahhhh-mazing.

Last week I shared some cinnamon bun muffins with you guys! Here is the recipe, copied and pasted from a paleo recipe site. Hence the links to all the ingredients below.

Cinnamon Bun Muffins
Serves: 9 muffins
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. To make the muffins, combine almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl
  2. In a large bowl blend together oil, agave, eggs, and vanilla
  3. Blend dry ingredients into wet and scoop a scant ¼ cup at a time into lined muffin cups
  4. To make cinnamon topping, combine agave, cinnamon, and oil in a small bowl
  5. Spoon topping onto muffins
  6. Bake muffins for 8-12 minutes at 350°.

Another day, another dessert…

Strawberry Banana Crumble

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1 banana
  • handful berries
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 110 mL quick oats (7.5 tbsp)
  • 3 tbsp almond meal
  • 1/4 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice bananas into a bowl. Toss with berries.
  3. Place fruit in baking dish. Drizzle with 1 tsp maple syrup. Bake for 10 minutes.
  4. Make crumble layer by mixing remaining ingredients (including remaining 2 tsp maple syrup), except coconut oil and cinnamon.
  5. Melt coconut oil in the microwave, then add cinnamon and pour into bowl. Mix all ingredients together.
  6. Once fruit has cooked for 10 minutes, remove baking dish from oven. Spread crumble layer on top. Return to oven and bake for 20 minutes, until top is golden brown.

And mac and cheese, of course.

Vegan squash sauce is irresistible, but you can take it up a notch with extra veggies, caramelized onions, and yup, broiled cheddar on top.

So good.

Quesadilla with avocado, egg, salsa, and cheddar. Classic and so delicious.

This sweet potato and ricotta tart filled with chopped spinach turned out okay.

It looked beautiful, but I think something was missing in terms of flavour. I might add goat cheese, scallions, and mushrooms next time.

Sometimes, messy food can be the most delicious. I probably had egg yolk on every single finger after devouring this tasty sandwich!

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Pancakes were also enjoyed a second time. New recipe!

Oatmeal Ricotta Pancakes

Makes 3 pancakes

Ingredients
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (or regular milk)
  • 1/4 cup quick oats
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cinnamon, to taste
  • 2 tsp ground flax
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. ricotta cheese
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients together. Cover, let batter rest overnight in the fridge to soften oats.
  2. Heat nonstick pan over medium-low heat and cook 3 pancakes. Flip when golden-brown and cook opposite side.
  3. Enjoy with Greek yogurt and other desired toppings. I like berries and maple syrup!

That’s it for today, everyone! Make sure you check out some of my brand-new PAGES: Acro Yoga, Aerial Silks, and Yoga Photo Journal. 🙂 I will update them regularly!

Have an awesome weekend.

PS: did you know that if you click furiously on the words under the TAG section, you can add as many tags as you want?! Now I have 239408 tags for this post…

PB Mug Cakes, Yoga, and a Disappointing Cafe Experience

Happy new week, everyone!

I’m starting to fall in love with yoga the more and more I do it! I’ve been going to hot yoga every day since final exams ended and doing a teeny bit of practice by myself in the kitchen. Do you like yoga? What are some of your favourite poses? To you, is yoga more emotional, spiritual, or physical?

One afternoon I took a nice walk around Victoria Park in Kitchener. It’s been a while since I’ve seen rippling lakes and green grass!

Tea latte at Café 22, one of my favourite places in Uptown Waterloo. This was their small London Fog latte, which I highly recommend. So good. And I actually want one right now.

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We recently moved our dining table next to the window, so I get to look out the window and at my laptop while I eat. 🙂 Also, Arsalan (roomie’s BF) came home from Japan recently! He was so kind to give me two beautiful handmade ceramic teacups. Aren’t they pretty? Do you like handmade utensils or kitchenware?

I’ve also been volunteering at the Research Institute of Aging, where Professor Heather Keller, my nutrition professor, leads a team of students to create healthy recipes for seniors. Turns out a MASSIVE percentage of seniors in long-term care homes are malnourished, whether it’s because they don’t like the food, they don’t have an appetite, or they aren’t enjoying the mealtime experience.

Bloggers, I could use your help! Let’s brainstorm some ideas for recipes that are…

  1. Not labour-intensive: it needs to be easy for cooks to prepare
  2. Can be made in bulk
  3. Can be refrigerated or frozen
  4. Not expensive: we have nearly $8 PER DAY, PER PERSON, so that rules out coconut flour, quinoa, etc.
  5. “Traditional”: sorry, no hipster things like green juice, kombucha, kale, etc.
  6. Nut-free, because of allergies
  7. High in nutrients! For example, sweet potatoes instead of regular white potatoes
  8. Easy to chew and swallow: this rules out things like sticky date balls, crunchy nut clusters, etc.

Tricky, right? What are some of your ideas?

PS: our first idea was avocado pudding, but turns out one serving is 3 avocados, which is $9 in total. :O That idea had to be trashed, unfortunately.

Salmon fishcakes! They were simple: 2 eggs, 1 can salmon, and a bunch of spices.

When I didn’t have any baked goods for dessert, I just melted some chocolate and ate it with strawberries for a makeshift fondue.

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Vegan butternut squash pasta with a nutritional yeast sauce and spinach. I actually quite liked this, despite my LOVE for real, creamy cheese.

I bought some [expensive!] strawberries and they didn’t taste that good. 😦

More pasta, this time with brown butter and sage! Idea from a special commenter 🙂

Baked oatmeal…

… enjoyed two days in a row.

Went to My Thai, a restaurant in Uptown Waterloo, with the roomies one day! Arsalan enjoyed vegan pad thai.

Madhulika and I enjoyed the amazing emerald curry with coconut sticky rice.

We shared banana spring rolls for dessert with vanilla ice cream! What a great end to the meal.

Leftover curry sauce turned into a delicious vegetable stir-fry the next day.

And then there was STILL leftover curry sauce, which became vegetable noodles! I was uncomfortably full after this. It doesn’t look like much, but I was stuffed!

Yeah, yeah… more pasta.

I don’t even have the effort to explain how good this was. Please make this.

Best-Ever Peanut Butter Mug Cake

  • 2 tbsp. spelt flour (or all-purpose)
  • 2 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp. almond milk
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • sprinkle cinnamon (optional)
Whisk together and microwave for 60 to 80 seconds.

This was one of my favourite meals of the week: quinoa with sweet potato, carrots, zucchini, spinach, roasted red peppers, and avocado on top with cayenne pepper and lemon juice. It was surprisingly filling!

More baked oats. Attractive, I know.

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Thoughts on warm salads? I used the last of my goat cheese here. So yummy!

Coconut and pineapple Thai-style fried rice was devoured another day. Seared tofu makes it really satiating, while pineapple provides a punch of flavour.

Roasted and shredded salmon on top of baked broccoli and yukon gold potatoes. They were all tossed with couscous and served with avocado and goat cheese. YUM!

And a simple oatmeal topped with a makeshift “crumble”, which was almond and coconut flour with nut butter, maple syrup, and some coconut oil.

More of the same 🙂

Spicy coconut-peanut noodles with tofu and shredded carrots and zucchini, and seared tofu.

I usually make two servings of whatever I have, so that a) it’s easier to make b) I’ll have another meal the next day.

These are some recent Mom meals: banana muffins, shrimp and chicken pasta, and some Chinese dishes. She also went on a cookie-baking rampage the other day and whipped up a whole table’s worth of COOKIES! What are your favourite dishes cooked by Mom? You know, the ones that simply cannot be replicated?!

This morning I took the bus to Pure Kitchen and Juice Bar after volunteering at the Grand River Hospital. I do patient registration, which is fun until there are 20 people in line, with two “Pats”, a “Jon” and a “Ron” and a “Don”, and a “Kryzhchevish”. My job is to take everyone’s name, record some health information, and call them up when their appointments are ready.

Anyways!

Pure Kitchen is located in the heart of downtown Kitchener. I had REALLY been looking forward to it for a long time, and when I got there, I was even more excited!

For my lunch, I decided on the small grain bowl, which came with brown rice, oven-roasted chicken, roasted sweet potato, chickpeas, spinach, sprouts (literally THREE sprouts, not satisfied), raw seeds, roasted mushrooms, and a spiced cranberry vinaigrette. Am I the only person who doesn’t like cold chicken? How do you guys feel about it?

Disappointment #1: For around the same price, you can have all of the ingredients placed into a whole wheat wrap. I asked for that option, grilled, but they were out of wraps. Um, you are a sandwich + soup cafe. You serve wraps. It’s 12:00, noon – how can you be out of wraps?

Disappointment #2: I asked for the meal to be served in a bowl, but they told me that they only provide these wasteful cardboard-paper box things.

Disappointment #3: Three sprouts in here.

Disappointment #4: Why was this cold? In fact, it was almost freezing. If the menu states “roasted chicken” and “roasted mushrooms” as well as “roasted sweet potato”, customers would assume that they are hot, or at least warm, right?!

Disappointment #5: Four massive leaves of spinach. Massive.

On the bright side, the rice was really good.

These were on the table for samplers, and they weren’t terrible. The green juice was a little bitter, and the granola was sticky, too chewy, and topped with a brown pineapple sorbet thing that never melted. I wouldn’t buy any of these.

I also ordered the Feel Good smoothie, which was made with maca, cacao, banana, almond butter, and almond milk. Sounds amazing, right?

WRONG. The $8 smoothie tasted “burned”. I have no other way of describing it. I couldn’t detect a hint of banana, almond butter, creamy almond milk, or even chocolate. The only flavour I could describe was a BURNED flavour.

Disappointment #where are we… oh #6: The smoothie tasted like a scorched tree branch or piece of firewood that had been blended with a scoop of ice.

I asked for the smoothie to be re-made after having half of it, and the lady did re-make it for me, this time it was so icy and not fully blended.

Disappointment #7: Smoothie #2 was 90% unblended ice.

The best part of the meal was the almond croissant that I enjoyed for dessert. It was truly amazing and almost redeeming. Have you ever had a croissant for dessert? Slightly heated up?! Oh my goodness, it’s gold.

On a totally different note…

How do you guys feel about running? If you’re a runner, what motivates you (ie. what do you THINK about when running?) If you aren’t a runner, what are some of your favourite ways to squeeze in some cardio?

Also, do you have to race to be a runner?

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Alright, that’s it for today! It’s 9:17 PM and I feel like I just ate dinner. Which, I kind of did. I always feel a little guilty for eating dinner after 8:00 PM, but unfortunately, I have commitments, I have things to do, and sometimes, it just isn’t realistic to have a beautifully-made dinner fresh on the table at 6.

Today, it was a lasagna that went from freezer to microwave at 8:30 PM because I got stranded at Goodlife Fitness because it started pouring (and thunderstorm-ing). 😦

Do you feel guilty when you end up eating later? Is there a certain time that you don’t “allow” yourself to eat? Back at home in BC, my mom was ADAMANT that after 6:30, no food allowed. For 18 years of my life, as soon as the clock ticked 6:31, it was “too late to eat”. This mentality really stuck with me and caused eating problems in my life. Thoughts?

PS: I just found out that I can click on all the tags that I want to add to this – I just added about 999 tags to this post, haha! 😀

10 Ways Food Blogging Ruined My Life

 Welcome to my first post of 2016…
  • Becoming a foodie abolished my inability to realize that I will never be a perfect eater, exerciser, or writer. I’m never going to throw my hair into a perfect messy bun and complete a 5-mile run before dawn, then come home for an organic kale-goji-maca-spirulina (what even IS spirulina?) smoothie. I will never master the art of photography or write flawless blog posts. And that’s okay. It’s fine if I feel sore one day and skip a workout. It’s not a problem if I “accidentally” have two extra scoops of nut butter after my morning oatmeal (this happens regularly!). Food-blogging has helped me understand that the most I can do is my best, and that I should always shoot for the moon knowing that I will land among the stars if I miss.

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Quinoa tossed with roasted zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, and white cheddar

 

  • It took away all of my laziness and lack of creativity – because I love playing with food. Honestly, oatmeal artwork seems like a pretty trivial and ridiculous hobby, but it’s so therapeutic. There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of devouring a big bowl that’s been decorated in a way that makes you happy. I’ve mentioned this before, but a bowl of cooked rolled oats is essentially a blank canvas for any ingredient you wish: you can let your imagination run wild with oatmeal and do some very, very innovative designs on those oats.

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Green smoothie bowl made with one frozen banana, 2 tbsp peanut butter, almond milk, 2 tbsp cocoa powder, pinch of salt, some cinnamon, and lots of spinach – topped with berries and crushed coconut cashews

 

  • It smashed my fear of travelling alone, or doing things by myself. Because food is the motivation for 99% of my adventures (no kidding here, I went to Paris solely for the croissants), I know that I will never get tired, afraid, or worried along the way. Food is always on my mind and inspires me to be brave and walk just a little further. The craziest thing I’ve ever done for food was probably ride the Metro for two hours in Quebec last summer, then walk for a good half hour just for the shredded duck and fig jam sandwich in Montreal. Totally worth it.

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Whole Foods hot bar buffet lunch: favourites included the chicken tomato stew, smoked mozzarella pasta salad, and mashed yams

 

  • Becoming a foodie took away any shyness and anxiety I had previously, towards interacting with people my age. Knowing about food and being able to talk about it made me a much more outgoing person. Now, when I meet new people, it’s so easy to strike up a conversation and keep it going, especially if one of us has food involved. I just have so, so much to say about food!

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Chocolate-banana oatmeal with crumbled hazelnut chocolate muffin, blackberries, and sunflower butter with crushed coconut cashews

 

  • It vanquished my ability to criticize other people or judge them without knowing them. How can I point out other people’s weaknesses without first analyzing my own? Reading about the lives of other food bloggers has really opened my eyes about countless other factors in their lives: most of the time, it’s not all about food. I’ve learned so much about their underlying fears and problems, and I can relate to so many of them. Now, it’s hard for me to make a negative pre-assessment of someone without understanding their past or celebrating their strengths at the same time.

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Tea time at Aunt Mimi’s: Whole Foods cheesecake, Whole Foods apricot and blueberry coffee cake, with some dark roast coffee with brown sugar and whole milk

 

  • It completely destroyed any desire I had to be average, “okay”, or normal. Why should you be mediocre when you can be innovative? Inspiring?  Encouraging? Original? Food blogging, cooking and baking, and even talking about food have helped me discover my “voice” and passion for health.
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Get-together at family friend’s house: stir-fried vegetables with shrimp, eggs with radish, tofu, pan-fried fish

 

  • It shut down all my frustration and inability to cope with “uh-oh” situations. There isn’t much you can do when the beautifully-ripened avocado turns out to have mushy brown flesh, when you find bugs in your spinach, or when your sister accidentally gobbles up the famous Parisian macaron you were planning to enjoy. Now, I’m realizing these little things are really not the big deal I hyped them up to be at the time. These little things just aren’t worth stressing over.

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Get-together with Dad’s coworkers and their families: fruit, asparagus + scallops, eggs + leeks, stir-fried udon and vegetables, cantaloupe, and purple yam + taro tapioca soup with coconut milk for dessert

 

  • It screwed up any dread or anxiety I felt before addressing adults. Speaking to my elders has always been a forte, but I’ve refined this skill so much that I actually look forward to interviews and answering tricky questions. When I used to volunteer at the Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Coquitlam, it was terrifying to think that I had to spend several hours a week engaging in conversation with sick and injured people aged 70 and above, many with physical and cognitive disabilities. The challenging thing was knowing that I shouldn’t talk to them about clothing (they have to wear hospital gowns), their significant others (may or may not still be with them), their illness or injury (no one wants to talk about this!), or their hospital room (many of them were bitter about their rooms and roommates). Initially, I felt like there was absolutely nothing to chat about with these elderly patients – until I realized that most of them loved sharing stories about their hometowns and the food they enjoyed there. Sometimes, patients told me about their beloved recipes, childhood meals – which, gosh, are SO different from today’s salmon-and-quinoa dinner – cooking hacks, and more. One time, a lady called Maria from Greece described how she made tzatziki based on her grandmother’s recipe. The secrets include a pinch of white pepper and salting and wringing out the grated cucumber to prevent it from diluting the yogurt.

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Curry-yogurt chicken drumstick, quinoa with roasted sweet potato, roasted broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and zucchini // vegan pumpkin spice latte chocolate pudding cake with maple yogurt and crushed coconut cashews

 

  • It drained any chances I had of missing out on getting to know countless supportive and inspirational people, many of whom are dietitians-to-be or share my passion for food. The network of foodies, online and offline, is truly amazing. I wasn’t intending on naming some of them, but now I feel like sharing their wonderful blogs with you guys – please do check out some of my absolute favourite people on the Internet: the supportive and hilarious Stephanie from Mindful Eats and Treats, the sweet, down-to-earth domestic goddess Kate of The Domestikated Life, the sophisticated and talented photographer Jack of Jack’s Balancing Act, the crazy-creative and thoughtful Cassie at SuperFitBabe, and Cora of My Little Tablespoon, who is not only a brilliant writer, but also a recipe queen. You guys inspire me with each and every blog post, and I know that I will always be in store for a treat whenever you publish something new. Thank you for that.

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Carrot cake oatmeal with mashed banana, chia and flax, topped with crumbled banana almond muffin and sunflower butter

 

  • It destroyed my fear of food. Not much else needs to be said here.

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Tofu fried rice with vegetables // spinach and ricotta ravioli with roasted red pepper and parmesan

 

I know that there might be some negative habits and behaviours involved with being a healthy food blogger, but for the most part, they certainly don’t. In fact, the compassionate comments and words of encouragement far outweigh the dark side of being a foodie! Blogging about food and life has encouraged me to gradually mature into the well-rounded and accomplished adult I hope to become, armed with all the skills and assets I need to tackle personal and professional situations in the future.

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Whole wheat pita topped with sweet potato slices, spinach scrambled eggs, goat cheese, and sweet potato aioli // quinoa with butternut squash and tomato sauce, pine nuts, veggies

 

Cheers to the delicious life: a life filled with friendship, laughter, cake, cheese and chocolate.

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Classic Mom dinner: lotus root patties, taro and chicken stew, stir-fried vegetables with sesame